Running a Shop Finance Operations Shop Production Payments+Collections

Streamline Supplement Ordering

Order Reprints

SHOP STATS: Xtreme Collision Center  Location: Morrisville, Vt.  Operator: Adam Grant Average Monthly Car Count: 125  Staff Size: 10 (4 body technicians, 1 painter, 1 parts manager, 1 front-end estimator, 1 CSR, 2 owners)  Shop Size: 5,600 square feet Annual Revenue: $2.4 million  

Adam Grant is no stranger to repairs and thus, unexpected damage that comes along with repairs. He has more than 25 years of experience in the collision repair industry. 

Throughout the years, he knows that, when it comes to vehicle damage, what might have appeared to be a two-hour job, can turn into a week long repair if the shop staff is not careful.

Supplements happen. But, any shop operator’s goal should be to keep the supplements as low as possible to reduce interruptions in business and save on time and money. After all, if a customer was at a coffee shop and the coffee shop ran out coffee filters to make drinks, the customer would find it unacceptable when asked to wait for the staff to order more.

Grant says you should be writing at least 20 percent of sales weekly in supplements.

“If you’re not, you’re leaving money on the table,” he says.

 At Xtreme Collision Center in Morrisville, Vt., the supplement rate is between 25 and 30 percent.

Grant says that, due to his body shop’s unique location, he had to figure out a process that could ensure as little time was wasted in ordering additional parts on a supplement as possible.


The Backstory

Grant opened Xtreme Collision Center in 2004 with his wife, Amy. The first year in business, the shop produced approximately $400,000 in annual sales and now, 16 years later, it produces $2.4 million in annual revenue.

Grant measures the supplement rate differently than other shops. He watches his supplement figure because he wants to make sure that the figure represents a certain percentage of what the team is getting done for the week. If the supplement figure is not high enough it means the shop didn’t capture everything or is not charging enough for labor.

“I’m sort of a numbers guy, like a lot of shop owners,” he says. “I shoot for 15, if not 20, percent of sales weekly in supplements.”

For example, the team might write a $2,000 repair order and then, after the blueprint process, will find additional damage. The team writes supplements from the original estimate in order to find all the damage and turn that $2,000 repair into a $2,500 one.

Supplements have changed over the years, of course, with the introduction of photo estimates into the repair process. That forced Grant to react accordingly. 


The Problem

Xtreme Collision Center is in a remote area, which makes it more difficult to get the parts needed, Grant says.

“In a lot of facilities, you can take the parts order, order the parts and get the parts all at once,” Grant says. “In my facility, we’re in a remote area so we have to pre-order the parts and get most of the parts there and then order the supplement parts.”

In order to get the right supplemental parts, Grant says the team needed to form a way to check the parts correctly to make sure the parts they had were not being ordered twice.

Grant’s process today is very different than 10 years ago, he says. Back then, the insurance company and the customer were more likely to come into the shop and just say, “OK, send me a bill when it’s done.”

“It’s not like that anymore,” Grant says. “Even being a preferred shop for a number of insurance companies, they want to know as we go what we’re running into.”

And, once the supplement gets delivered at the end of the repair, it can be another daunting task to get paid for the work being done.


The Solution

For the body repair process at Grant’s facility, the car now gets checked into the shop and goes through a blueprinting process.

    Once the car is checked in, Grant’s team follows these blueprinting steps:

  1. The team will walk around the car with the customer and then the car goes to the wash bay to be cleaned and sanitized.

  2. Once the car is out of the wash bay, the estimator will mark up the vehicle with a pen and try to complete most of the supplement at this point.

  3. The car goes to the body shop floor where the team performs a 100 percent teardown, reads repair orders and check-in parts through mirror-matching parts based on photos. The supplement is finalized at this step.

In his process, Grant has a technician or back-end estimator write the supplement, while the parts manager is the person getting the parts for the technician and the front-end estimator is the one typically going after the money to get paid for the supplement.

At that point, the staff members go through all the parts pages and ensure they can dig up as much information as possible regarding supplements.

A critical part of the process is for the team to talk about the type of damage and sort out from where it originated. For hits like deer hits, the flow of damage is more easily seen, he says, but if the damage seems like it was from a blow left to right, for example, then Grant and his technicians iron out where the hit started and where it ended to make sure they don’t miss an area of damage and thus, a part needed.

The team gets the proper authorization from the insurance company and the parts manager orders the final parts.

These days, the team has to have several supplements to give to the insurance companies to keep them updated rather than one large supplement in the end.

Between doing the supplements and making sure the body shop is paid, Grant says it’s seemingly a full-time job, with a technician devoting 25-30 hours per week. That number depends on the size of the shop, though, he says. For a two-person body shop, it could take a shorter amount of time. Grant has over 10 people in his body shop.

“The one thing I would preach is, is to get information up front as quickly as possible,” Grant says.  “A lot of times, guys will get a car in and want to start working on it and the last thing they want to do is fool around with the supplement or mirror-check parts.”

Grant says it is absolutely critical for a technician to blueprint the car and mirror-match the parts. Take time to find the required parts for the job, including small ones like clips. 


The Aftermath

Grant says it can be hard to get out of a rut and change a process that’s been in place for years. But, he says change is a good thing and can make the entire repair easier.

“It’s not about getting the car done as quickly as possible,” he says. “It’s about getting paid for what we do as shop owners.”

Grant discovered that having the right tools in the shop can aid in reducing supplements. A shop needs a good work station, estimating software close, computerized measuring and a really good management system to track and order the parts. There should always be clearly laid out damaged parts that can be documented with a camera. 


The Takeaway

“We try to eliminate supplements as much as we can, but sometimes on a big job you think you have everything and then you start putting stuff back together and run into other things,” Grant says. “It’s an ongoing process.”

Grant says that it can still be a challenge to reduce supplements because cars are built differently today than before. They’re more or less built to collapse, he notes, which could make it harder to get to the root of a vehicle’s damage.


Related Articles

It's Time to Eliminate 'Supplement' from Your Shop's Vocabulary


Break the Supplement Mindset

You must login or register in order to post a comment.